Aside from sexy coconut bras, coconut husks are basically useless. And in developing countries, they can be dangerous.
After the meat is harvested, discarded shells can collect water, making them prime breeding grounds for malaria carrying mosquitoes.
But researchers at Baylor University have come up with a solution. Convert the woody husks into a material that can used to make car parts.
Now, the process isn’t totally green. The coconut shells are blended with polypropylene, a thermoplastic polymer, and after being hot-pressed, the substance becomes strong and durable enough to be used as trunk-liners, floorboards and car-door covers.
No doubt, this is a step, albeit a baby step, towards more sustainable automobile manufacturing, but it could become invaluable to small farmers. Coconut husks would go from garbage to a profit generating commodity, boosting farmers’ bottom line.